With the rise in popularity of virtual currencies, cryptocurrency related scams are also on the rise the world over. Australia was not an exception. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), cryptocurrency-related scams defrauded Australians over AU$2 million in the course of 2017.
As reported by ZDnet, those that bore the brunt of the scams were those “chasing the digital currency dream or paying a virtual ransom.”
According to the ACCC report, in December alone, Australians lost in excess of AU$700K. December was also the month that digital currencies saw a heightened surge in price with bitcoin hitting approximately $20,000 in value.
“In the fourth quarter of 2017, the value and popularity of cryptocurrencies increased worldwide. Scammers adapt each year and find ways to exploit popular trends, new platforms, new ways of communicating, fad products, changes to legislation or new investment opportunities. Between January and September 2017, about $100 000 was reported lost per month to scams which had a cryptocurrency angle. However, in the month of December 2017, reported losses to Scamwatch exceeded $700 000 and the average reported loss had jumped from $1885 in January to $13 205.” recorded the ACCC report.
With misleading ICOs being one of the ways Australians lost to cons, most people went for cryptocurrency-related investment pyramid schemes which thrived on the popularity of digital currencies. Most people did not exactly understand how to buy/trade in virtual currencies which led them straight to scammers.
“A number of reports showed that victims entered into cryptocurrency-based scams through friends and family who convinced them they were onto a good thing, a classic element of pyramid schemes” noted ZDnet.
With more than 200,000 scams being reported to Australian federal agencies last year, in different categories, Australians lost close to AU$350M to scams with investment scams accounting for over AU$64M. In addition, close to 3,000 Australians disclosed their personal information to the scammers.
Those looking for love in Australia did not evade the long hand of the scammers as dating and romance scams took U$42M from unsuspecting citizens.
Although the numbers could certainly be more than recorded, the cryptocurrency-related scams are still active globally with scammers devising new ways to do business with each sunrise.
What measures do you think will reduce the chances of individuals falling into cryptocurrency-related scams?
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